I hate doctors. Almost as much as I hate Sushi. They tell me you can get used to Sushi in time. But in my 20 year long and unfortunately regular interaction with doctors, I haven’t learnt to stomach them.
Believe me, it isn't for the lack of trying. When you're in the hospital as much as I've been - you want them to be on your side.
The list of litanies is long but my chief complaint is their ignorance.
Ever met a neurologist with epilepsy? Or a psychiatrist with bipolar disorder? Or a surgeon who’s had a hand and leg removed?
I haven’t. I'm sure there are some out there. (Gynaecologists who've had kids would qualify) But not many. So they can make the diagnosis, they can prescribe the pills but do they know what it really feels like? No sir.
So it’s – “You have a stomach ache? Take a pain killer and bugger off home.” Often followed by, “Your appendix ruptured after you got home? Oops, sorry. I didn't know you had an appendix. Next!”
I started my career as a patient hating all the nurses. Especially the mallu ones who giggled and chattered in a strange language while you lay there moaning in pain. Besides, they just couldn't get the I-V going right.
A couple of years ago, back in hospital, I ran into a nurse who couldn't get my glucose moving. She pressed the needle a little harder and found that the liquid would flow only if it was twisted at some precise angle. She left me sitting up, holding the needle at that angle for the next one hour. I smiled indulgently. She was positively benign compared to the doctors I've had the misfortune of knowing.
Later I came across another nurse who tried to shove a pipe down a stroke patient's throat so hard that blood spurted out of his nose like a fountain. Considering the fact that he had to go on blood thinners for the stroke and couldn't, simply because of her stupidity --- it was a life threatening mistake. That there were Duty Doctors all around her at the time just added insult to injury.
I can think of a few things I would have liked to shove down her throat.
I've developed a theory over time; over a very painful 20 year career as patient and patient-attendant, to be precise. Let me spare you the whole tedious explanation on how I arrived at it and give it to you straight instead.
- Stay away from old Bengali general physicians. They are verbose, tedious, tendentious and believe that their pearls of blabber are better than pills or tests or diet control. “Its oll in the maind. You hab to hab phaith and dethermination” is what you are likely to hear in the middle of your third heart attack.
You want to tell them is "Phaith isn’t going to keep you alive after I slowly choke you to death." You don’t want Phaith when you feel like ten sumo wrestlers are sitting on your chest. You want pills to make the pain go away. And you want someone to turn the bloody world right-side up again.
One such Bengali blabberer was almost a homicide victim by a patient in a hospital in
Hyderabad. I refuse to name names.
- Stay away from any doctor under 40. In an emergency, say 35. The younger ones don’t know jack-shit. They've surrendered useless appendages like hands and ears and god forbid, their brains, to X-Rays and Ultra sounds and CT scans. They don’t treat you, they treat THE REPORT. And may The Lord help you if you insist you have more pain than the report says you should. The old fashioned idea that doctors touch the area that is in pain or actually listen to the patient --- they don’t do that any more.
And if forced to touch you, they’ll quickly pull their hands back like you’re some kind of disease. They’ll leer and snicker and patronize you till you feel like a worm. Besides, your mere presence affronts them. You interfere with their mating ritual with other 20-something duty doctors and nurses.
3. As a general rule, if you’re a hospital guest, prefer an older nurse to a younger doctor (Accept your senior consultant who you hope is good). Just beware of nurses who smile too much. They’re usually covering up for how inept or how new they really are. Any nurse, who’s been around long enough to be trustworthy, has nothing to smile about.
4. If you have a medical emergency in the middle of the night -- say the pain has suddenly shot up or you’re getting cold sweats, or seizures, or a stroke, or dying -- don’t call the duty doctor. Ask for the head nurse. The DD will inevitably be some youngling who caught the roster and will be more lethal than the disease. Besides, he’ll be so sleepy, he can’t make out your geezer from your face. The head nurse will be some over-40 matron who’ll know what to do and when to wake up the senior doctor at home.
If, by some misfortune, the head nurse is also younger than 40, start raising hell. Insist on calling their senior doctor from home OR ELSE…Threaten to set fire to the hospital, ring the fire alarm, call the cops….anything that works.
Now don’t say I didn't warn you. Heed the advice, else RIP.
Disclaimer: No junior doctors or nurses were hurt in the writing of this article.
Disclaimer 2: This writer of this article has nothing against Bengali doctors or Mallu nurses. Those are merely used representatively. It seeks to rail and rant against ALL doctors and nurses who don't take time to listen to the patient
Disclaimer 3: There are some great doctors out there. Some the writer actually knows. This article does not rant against them.